White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Writing Fighting: Critical Cognitive Approaches to the Language of Killing in War

Voice, Matthew Adam (2018) Writing Fighting: Critical Cognitive Approaches to the Language of Killing in War. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Download (3667Kb) | Preview


This thesis investigates the ways in which soldiers use language to report and structure their experiences of conflict. In particular, it examines autobiographical descriptions of acts of killing from wars across the 20th and 21st century. Beginning with the application of Cognitive Grammar (Langacker, 2008) to a clause-level Critical Discourse Analysis of lexicogrammar (cf. Hart, 2013; 2014; 2018), it shows that diverse stylistic strategies construe force and causality in a number of ways. In doing so, the study also reinforces the importance of narrative context and background knowledge in the interpretation of individual clauses. Considering the applicability and limitations of Cognitive Grammar to discourse-level analysis (following Pincombe, 2014), the thesis presents a novel approach to the representation of the perception of intentionality in language. It argues that inferred intentions can function as reference points (Langacker, 2008; Harrison, 2017), marking continuity or deviation from mind-modelled (Stockwell, 2009) norms associated with the perception of an agent across discourse. In addition, the thesis calls into question the specificity with which analysts define and distinguish between social and linguistic agency, and conducts a reader-response study, finding that readers’ perceptions of agents’ intentionality differ from their assessments of responsibility. Overall, the analysis demonstrates that Cognitive Grammar can effectively account for the ideological construal of killing in soldiers’ writings, and that the adaptation of the model to consider the perception of intentionality promises further novel developments in the critical and stylistic analysis of discourse from a cognitive perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Cognitive Grammar, cognitive linguistics, stylistics, Critical Discourse Analysis, Cognitive Poetics, linguistics, narrative, military memoir
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.762556
Depositing User: Dr Matthew Voice
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2018 10:39
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:05
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22421

You do not need to contact us to get a copy of this thesis. Please use the 'Download' link(s) above to get a copy.
You can contact us about this thesis. If you need to make a general enquiry, please see the Contact us page.

Actions (repository staff only: login required)